Information blocking is the practice of interfering with the access, exchange, or use of electronic health information (EHI).
In 2016, Congress enacted The 21st Century Cures Act (CURES Act) as a comprehensive federal law that, among other things, requires new federal rules surrounding the use, exchange, and access of health information. The rule establishing information blocking regulations that physicians are required to comply with in coordination with the CURES Act was released in 2020. The rule indicates that “actors” (including physicians, hospitals, EHR vendors, health information exchanges, and health information networks) whose actions are likely to interfere with the access, exchange, or use of EHI could be considered information blockers and be subject to penalties or disincentives.
ACOG applauded the act when it was signed into law because it included two long-standing priorities for ACOG: increasing funding for research on medications used by pregnant and breastfeeding patients and ensuring that patients suffering from postpartum depression get needed care. ACOG also urged regulators to take into account and mitigate the administrative burden on physicians when implementing the act.
Since then, ACOG has advocated for delaying the implementation of the CURES Act until at least the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency to reduce administrative burden on physicians and practices. However, the law went into effect on April 5, 2021, with no indication of delayed implementation.
ACOG has worked to develop a checklist and an aid to assist practices in preparing for these requirements. Additionally, the American Medical Association (AMA) has created a two-part educational resource to help physicians and their medical practices understand the requirements and develop an information blocking compliance program: View Part 1 and Part 2. The National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has also created webinars and fact sheets to navigate the new regulations.
In the meantime, ACOG continues to advocate for delayed implementation of the CURES Act rules until the end of the current public health emergency and to avoid increased administrative burden on physicians and practices that are affected by these new regulations. If you have any further queries, please submit a ticket to the ACOG Payment Advocacy and Policy Portal.